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As their numbers decrease, cineastes and others muse about the future of the newspaper film critic

Ebert returns to the movies,ebert040108.article

Meet a Critic: USA Today's Claudia Puig Surveys The Critical Landscape

The Nation: James Agee's Review of "It's a Wonderful Life"

The Movies Are: Carl Sandburg's Film Reviews and Essays, 1920-1928,M1


The rise of the professional critic was heralded by some as an important innovation in a number of fields, including literary studies and film. Others have remained skeptical of critics, including Mark Twain, who once opined "The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all." Still, many find professional critics quite important, and lately they have expressed concern about the decline of film critics in various print publications. In the past several years, more than a dozen daily newspapers and several alternative weeklies have decided to let their film critics go, and a number of people in the industry are concerned about this trend. This week, Scott Rudin, the producer of "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood", remarked "For those of us who are making work that requires a kind of intellectual conversation, we rely on that talk to do the work of getting people interested." Others have noted that many film websites offer equally critical and probing explorations of everything under the cinematic sun. S.T. VanAirsdale, the founder of a site dedicated to coverage of the New York film world commented, "Honestly, I think that a lot of the viewers of serious film have already migrated to the Web."

The first link will take visitors to an article from this Tuesday's New York Times which discusses the ongoing decline of newspaper film critics. The second link leads to an official letter from the beloved Roger Ebert about his return to writing movie reviews after his long convalescence. Moving on, the third link leads to a nice interview with USA Today film critic Claudia Puig conducted by Jen Yamato for Rotten Tomatoes (a website that organizes, collects, and provides access to film reviews from a variety of sources.) The fourth link whisks users away to one of author James Agee's celebrated film reviews. Written for The Nation in 1946, Agee has this to say, in part, about "It's a Wonderful Life": "Much too often this movie appeals to the heart at the expense of the mind, at other times it urgently demands of the heart that it treat with contempt the mind's efforts to keep its integrity; at still other times the heart is simply used, on the mind, as a truncheon." The fifth link leads to a digitized version of a book that features the film reviews that Carl Sandburg wrote for the Chicago Daily News in the 1920s. Finally, the last link leads to IndieWire, which offers up great information on independent film festivals, conferences, film weblogs, and so on.
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Newspapers Losing Film Critics
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